Home to nearly three millennia of culture, Rome stands alone as the prime destination for travelers interested in ancient history. People come from across the globe to view the heavy hitters—the Colosseum, Roman Forum, Vatican, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, and Pantheon—but also to see some of the world’s most recognizable art and to taste Italy’s famed cuisine. Guided tours help visitors do it all, while cutting down on time spent traveling between attractions and waiting in line. And while the Italian capital boasts enough history, masterpieces, and food to fill any itinerary, its central position near Italy’s west coast makes it an ideal base for exploring farther afield. Tuscany, the Amalfi Coast, Pompeii, Florence, and Tivoli are popular day-trip destinations from the city.
As the second most popular attraction in Italy after only the Vatican, the Colosseum hosts some 4 million annual visitors, meaning that hours-long lines are all but inevitable without skip-the-line privileges. Most experiences include admission or a guided visit to the nearby Forum and Palatine Hill, but consider a tour that offers access to areas usually inaccessible to the public to enhance your clients’ experiences.
This basic tour offers the standard Colosseum experience with skip-the-line admission to the first two levels as well as the Forum.
Secure clients’ access to restricted areas, including the underground chambers and arena floor, with this tour.
If your clients are hurried for time, take advantage of this express tour that explores both the arena floor and second level in just 1.5 hours.
This tour allows travelers to see the Colosseum—including typically off-limits areas—under cover of night when the crowds disperse and the temperature drops.
Read more about Colosseum tour options here.
Adjoining St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican is an enormous complex of galleries holding some of Italy’s most important art. Its crown jewels are the Sistine Chapel, home to Michelangelo’s The Last Judgement, and the frescoes in the Raphael Rooms. Tours that enter before the main opening time or allow travelers to skip even priority lines can save clients hours of time.
This first-of-its-kind experience allows travelers to open up the Vatican with the clavigero (key keeper) an hour before most early-access tours arrive. A guide provides commentary inside the Sistine Chapel—a rare perk as talking is usually prohibited.
If your clients want alone time in the Sistine Chapel without the early morning wake-up call, this after-hours VIP tour provides just that. Access to secret rooms is also included.
Clients enter the museums through a special entrance, bypassing even the fast-track line, on this tour that includes the essential sights.
This tour includes access to the rarely seen relics of the “vatacombs,” making it a great option for clients looking for more than just the standard Vatican experience.
Read more about Vatican tour options here.
With its massive dome and center oculus, the Pantheon is one of ancient Rome’s best-preserved buildings. The temple-turned-church is free to enter, but clients interested in learning about its history and architectural design should do so on a guided tour as signage inside is limited. Most Pantheon experiences also visit nearby sights such as the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, and Piazza Navona.
This is the tour to book for clients looking to see the highlights of Rome’s historical center in one whistle-stop tour. Bonus: A gelato or coffee break is included.
Perfect for food enthusiasts, this tour pairs central Rome’s ancient highlights with ample tastings of Italian specialties like gelato, pizza, and wine.
This Pantheon tour also explores Basilica of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, a nearby church often overlooked by travelers that’s home to a statue by Michelangelo.
Ideal for a first night in Rome, this evening walk orients visitors and passes by top sights during the cooler hours of the day, without the daytime crowds.
Read more about Pantheon tour options here.
The Borghese Gallery and Museum houses two floors of works by the likes of Titian, Raphael, Caravaggio, and Bernini. Visitors are admitted at 2-hour intervals and tickets can sell out a month in advance (reservations are required). The gallery is surrounded by the Villa Borghese, which is home to several other museums, a zoo, equestrian arena, and a panoramic terrace overlooking Piazza del Popolo.
This skip-the-line ticket secures your clients’ visit to the Borghese Gallery, and provides the option of exploring independently or upgrading for a guided tour.
Travelers rarely visit the Borghese Gallery and Museum without also exploring the Villa Borghese, and this tour stops at both attractions with a guide.
Led by an art historian, this private tour is ideal for clients that want an in-depth tour that can be tailored to specific interests.
Clients more interested in the outdoors might like this Segway tour, which skips the gallery but covers nearly all corners of Villa Borghese.
Read more about Borghese Gallery tour options here.
Things to Know
When to Visit
Parts of the city shut down during the summer, when temperatures soar and locals head for the beach and mountains, so travelers may prefer to visit during spring or fall.
Walking is the best way to get around the historical center, but Rome has an extensive and affordable public transportation system (tickets are valid across all buses, trams, and metro lines) when time is of the essence.
Taking a seat in a café instead of ordering at the bar means paying a little extra for service plus a small tip. Travelers should cover shoulders and knees when visiting religious sites.
Things to Bring
Travelers with water bottles can fill up for free at Rome’s public fountains, which spout fresh drinking water that stays cool no matter the weather.
What the Locals Know
Antico Caffè Greco near Piazza di Spagna is Rome’s oldest café. Though it draws travelers because of its location and history—Byron and Goethe were reportedly regulars—Romans still stop by for the atmosphere.